Stamps – the most educational children’s hobby in the world

1985 Ireland Europa CEPT set Stamp collecting, or philately, was known as the hobby of kings because most of the kings and princes of Europe used to collect stamps. The top philatelic auctions were major social events and often had a string of expensive social events arranged around them. There were philatelic societies in every city, stamp clubs in every school and it seemed like everyone had an interest in the hobby.

Nowadays the situation is different, with fewer auctions, fewer stamp societies and, in Ireland, no stamp clubs in schools and an aging population of stamp collectors.

This is a great pity because philately is arguably THE most educational hobby in the world. Stamps can teach your child a wide range of skills that will help them at school and in later life. These include the following :-

• Irish, European and World Geography

• Irish, European and World History

• Language skills
– Vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar
– Introduction to foreign names, new alphabets and pronunciations
– Add to their Irish language vocabulary

• Mathematics, Economic & Monetary Systems
– Introduction to foreign currencies
– Exposure to historical non-metric currencies, weird & wonderful units of exchange

• also Commerce, Economics, Politics, Culture, Design, Art
– Knowledge of Irish flora and fauna
– Knowledge of the Irish culture
– Knowledge of famous Irish people + organisations and their achievements

• Handwriting and computer skills
– If they want to “write up” their collections by hand or design customised albums themselves
– Or if they want to contribute to their school’s website / blogs / etc.

• Ability to plan, study, research, summarise and present findings
– If they engage in Projects + Publishing articles for in-house newsletters / school magazines, etc.

• Design, Spatial Relations & Printing Technology
– If they enter stamp design competitions, or produce in-house newsletters / school magazines, etc.

• Opportunity to participate and compete for “non-sports” people
– Organising and competing in Primary School competitions (internal + inter-school events)

• Acquire General Knowledge, Innovation, Competitive and Entrepreneurial skills
– Stamps are a window into virtually every aspect of human activity in the world today (and yesterday)

• … all of this is possible via philately (stamp collecting)

The biggest challenge facing today’s parents and teachers is how to engage with children while competing with computer games, television, mobile phone apps and other non-educational distractions.

Another challenge is how to engender the art of skills acquisition and competition outside of sport, i.e. not all children are interested in sport and many grow up thinking they are unable to compete or communicate effectively.

• Irish children and teenagers are avid collectors
– They collect coins, banknotes, medals, badges, sports programmes, etc.
– They also collect vinyls, computer games, sports memorabilia

• From 2002 onwards, they quickly collected most of the Euro coins
– And, while they wait for those elusive and scarce Euro coin varieties
– they are now collecting Irish decimal and pre-decimal coins, i.e. back-filling

• But, they are not collecting stamps

Why not ???

• There are no stamp clubs or philatelic societies for children in Ireland

• Parents and primary school teachers are, seemingly, unaware of the educational value of stamp collecting

• Nationwide retailers like Eason’s no longer stock stamp packets, albums or books

• An Post only offers expensive products for advanced collectors and ignore the beginners and improvers phases of stamp collecting. This is a barrier for children trying to start off in the hobby

• Collectors’ Fairs & Exhibitions now have an admission charge
– This is a disincentive for families to attend
– This is also a major disincentive for children to attend

• Few dealers offer children’s packets, mixtures or albums

• eBay dealers add high postage and packing charges for cheap stamps

The good news is that at The Collectors’ Shop in Blackrock Market,

• we have three big boxes of loose stamps (Irish, Foreign and pre-1970 stamps)

• your child can search through these boxes and choose only the stamps they want

• your child can buy 12 stamps for one euro and there is are no P&P charges

In addition to these, we also have stamp packets (priced at 50c upwards per pack), stamps on album pages (priced at 50c upwards per page), stamps on stockcards, first day covers and postal history.

We also plan to have free, downloadable world stamp albums – contact us for details.

We also have materials to help primary school teachers set up a stamp club, organise competitions and form county, provincial and national committees – contact us for details.

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